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Thoughts on theaudiocritic.com's comments about amps? - Page 2

post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your comments. This whole thing is very interesting to me. I thought that the issue was simple and theaudiocritic.com certainly makes it seem that way - a case of bits, 1s and 0s and scientifically what a cable, chip or whatever else can and cannot do. Judging by the amount of responses in this and the audio vs. science thread it seems to be much more than that. Regardless of placebo effect or psychoacoustics, it looks like a hard and fast 'yes' or 'no' won't be had any time soon.

I'm not sure quite what to think myself but I'm content to sit back and just take in what I read. I don't know 1/100th the science behind this stuff that others do and it humbles me to read many of the posts around here.

post #17 of 20
Originally Posted by Ferbose View Post
I just came up with an analogy:

Have one person read out:
And then read this string of numbers

And ask the listener, do you hear a difference?
Of course the listener can hear that 8 sounds different from 7, but who can remember it in this context? It is confusing as hell.
The kind of listening test that is banned from discussion on this forum is also confusing as hell to the ear-brain. So I am going to follow the rule and not discuss it
That really is a great analogy.

Reading the section "10 Biggest Lies in Audio" in issue 26 reveals very plainly the bias of the author(s). I personally can't stand the type that implicitly believes current knowledge (their knowledge) is at it's peak, everything to be known is known, and that author oozes that type of hubris. I don't have a position on cables, power conditioners, vacuum tubes, feedback, bi-wiring or cd-treatment. That is the definition of scepticism - suspended belief. The Audio Critic doesn't excercise scepticism, he dribbles baseless disbelief as though he is the sole purveyor of Truth. In a number of those 10 "lies", the author contradicts himself or conveniently ignores a (correct) explanation offered earlier.

In "The vacuum tube lie" for example, he doesn't consider the possibility that vacuum tubes may be less susceptible to thermal memory distortion (or some other not widely known or unknown effect) than solid state devices.

In "The listening test lie", he says that ABX critics cite "assorted psychobabble on the subject of aural perception". After calling them "tweakos" and not bothering to present the psycho-acoustic argument credibly and honestly, he doesn't even bother to rebut it as he does with the other, easier to dismiss ones. It just happens to be a perfectly valid argument against often flawed ABX/DBT methods.

In "The golden ear lie" he says it's absolutely not true that a "golden ear" can hear subtleties "the rest of us" (him, presumably) can't. Then he goes on to say that, as in the case of the car mechanic who has learnt the subtleties of sound associated with engine problems, someone can learn how to interpret sound better than another. "You could do it too if you had dealt with as many engines as he has". I laughed at this. How can someone be so daft? Surely this is intentional? Not only is he apparently unaware that it's widely accepted that certain individuals have objectively exceptional hearing (can hear beyond 20Khz), he also doesn't realise the blatantly obvious fact that he's disproved his own argument. The car mechanic learning the aural subtleties of a faulty engine is no different than the audiophile learning the subtleties of Audio Component X. Whether the advantage is by experience or by physiology is irrelevant - an advantage exists, and subtleties can be heard by one individual that are not heard by another. It wouldn't have surprised me if he then went on to say "BUT EARS AREN'T MADE OF GOLD DUHHHHH".

I have no doubt his comments on amps are equally amusing.
post #18 of 20
Originally Posted by JadeEast View Post
Clipped from the website.

"all amplifiers having high input impedance, low output impedance, flat frequency response, low distortion, and low noise floor sound exactly the same when operated at matched levels and not clipped"

This is pertaining to loudspeaker loads how applicable is this to headphone amps? I'm not sure that anyone has done an objective leaning testing of headphone amps in a ABX or blind test at this point in time.
This is generally true. Headphones can be just a little trickier. First, the industry standard headphone output for a headphone amp is 120 ohms, while the electrical ideal is near-0 ohms. If the impedence curve of the headphone is too uneven, the difference between these two types of amps may be mildly audible.

Second, many headphone amps are not mass-produced and the lack of killer corporate electronic expertise and the reality of small-scale production costs result in audible problems like noise, channel imbalances, distortion, frequency response problems, hum, etc. Very substandard in the world of today's technology. Such a headphone amp will noticeably degrade rather than improve audible performance.

Third, a combination of a low-impedence headphone with a poorly designed headphone amp can apparently result in some audible bass roll-off (reduction), as has reportedly happened with some portable devices used in conjunction with some low-impedence headphones.

I like the audio critic very much, by the way. There is much to be learned from them. The ten biggest lies is a great article, in my opinion. Of course they are not perfect. They went a bit overboard once, as I recall, when they argued that speakers are better reviewed by measurement only than by listening, but they seemed to have backed off on that point of view quite a bit over the years. They still listen to speakers when reviewing them.
post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
I guess that's the thing about science. When some believe they are dealing with cold, hard facts, they don't like others to throw around what they deem baseless opinions in some sort of half-hearted argument.

If there's one thing I learned in school, though, it's that paradigm shifts can turn science upside down with new discoveries. While you may have been an expert in a subject yesterday, new research and revelations today can make your knowledge instantly antiquated.

I'm not saying that's what's going on here, I'm just saying that I understand why so many people have a problem with TAC presenting itself in a position of authority and absolute truth.

Originally Posted by Steve999 View Post
They went a bit overboard once, as I recall, when they argued that speakers are better reviewed by measurement only than by listening...
No matter how you slice it, though, this seems a little silly.

post #20 of 20
but how close are we to the ideal amp? not even individual components are ideal.

just take a look at any amp design forum, like headwise.
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